My eldest daughter (who was 16 yesterday - how did that happen?) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a few months ago. Not even three months actually, but it seems like forever to me!
Ironically, it was on "World Diabetes Day" How's that for timing?!
Type 1 diabetes is an auto-immune disease, and it can just happen. It's apparently nothing she did or we did, and it's nothing to do with a poor lifestyle or eating too many sweets, which is what most people mentally link "diabetes" to (and the next paragraph will tell you why people think this). It's not hereditary but her genetics could have made her more pre-disposed to get it. Her pancreas just decided to give up and now she needs insulin several times a day.
And it is quite different from the more commonly known Type 2 diabetes which is what about 90% of people with diabetes have and which is frequently linked to lack of a healthy lifestyle and eating habits. The huge rise in Type 2 diabetes unfortunately runs parallel with increased levels of obesity. It's not the only cause, of course, but it is the main story.
Here's a scary statistic. In 1985, there were about 30 million people with Type 2 diabetes. By 2010, that had risen to 285 million! Oh dear. And I think I might be a candidate if I don't get my unhealthy backside in gear.
At home, I have morphed into the "nag" - the mum who goes on and on. I do try not to, but it's necessary right now so... well, so be it. Her dad is trying to remain collected and be the reasonable one, and my other daughter (who is 14 next week) is feeling a touch of the green-eyed monster as her sister gets a fair bit of attention right now. Again, we are trying to negate this, but ....what a balancing act for everyone!
The team at the local children's hospital have continued to be great, and supportive and I have been told, in no uncertain terms, by our GP to make the most of this, and to accept any service that is offered. For when the child transitions into the adult health care system, it can be very hit and miss and there are gaping holes in the support system and the requisite health checks. Luckily my GP's clinic also has an experienced diabetic team so fingers crossed that my daughter is able to educate herself sufficiently in the next two years so that she is able to manage her diabetes in a successful way.
What I have to remind myself on a daily basis is that this is ultimately her journey and health issue, and as the mum I will no doubt worry forever, but she is the one that must live with it, manage it, and suffer the consequences if there is a poorly-managed lifestyle. Sucks really! But it's not insurmountable, and nowadays there are tons of positive role models to prove that diabetes need not hinder you in your goals and dreams. You just have to take responsibility for yourself.
I am impatient for her to "get it", to absorb the routines into her whole being; for it all to become a completely natural part of her life. I need her to pack, organize and grab her kit by instinct. This is going to take a distracted and busy teenager a while to accomplish. But it's kinda important.
So I will continue to nag, nudge, suggest and harangue my daughter for a while longer.
And we will all continue to work on the new normal.